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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.

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Nancy Werking Poling posted an event

Nancy Werking Poling at Black Mountain Library

June 15, 2019 from 3pm to 4pm
Can women rescue the planet from ecological disaster?Nancy Werking Poling will launch her new novel, WHILE EARTH STILL SPEAKS, set in WNC. She'll tell the stories behind the story: How did Mary (more crone than virgin) get into the narrative? And Mary Surratt, a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth?See More
Monday
Caroline McIntyre posted events
Apr 29
Rob Neufeld updated their profile
Apr 13
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Flat Rock history via a road

Travelling back in time on a Flat Rock roadby Rob Neufeld             If you walk the one mile length of North Highland Lake Road in Flat Rock, you step nearly 200 years into the past.            At the east end, the 21st century reigns.  Fronting six-lane Spartanburg Highway, a super-Ingles sits above a bog; and a CVS store faces an Octopus Garden smoke shop, a chiropractor, a cell phone provider, and a six-lane avenue to I-26 a mile away .            Neither Ingles nor CVS carries the big…See More
Apr 8
George Ellison left a comment for Renea Winchester
"luv ya Renea ... Kephart bio finally done after 40 years ... free at last ... free at last... great god almighty ... free a last!"
Apr 5
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Connie Regan-Blake Storytelling at Hendersonville Public Library at Henderson County Public Library - Main Branch

June 13, 2019 from 6pm to 7pm
Join Connie Regan-Blake for a family oriented evening of stories at the Hendersonville Library.See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Please join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” Here are the tellers for our April 6th “Slice of Life” performance.  Christine Phillips Westfeldt, Kyra Freeman, Steve Tate, Alberta Hipps and more! The event is hosted by the …See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive,…See More
Apr 1
Rap Monster posted a blog post

Stealth Hazy - 'Gun Clap'

Stealth Hazy - Gun ClapI got 80 rounds with a beam on it riding dirty I'm smoking chronic top off hear that system pound 808 thats subsonicI double down quadruple upstraight droppin with no cutwilt chamberlain on the reboundand you a fan just starstruckI…See More
Mar 26
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Mar 2
Sue Diehl shared their event on Facebook
Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion

TWO NEW APPALACHIAN NOVELS

I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)See video of Act 1, Scene 1: The SettingProgram Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Reader: Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23

The Main Show

:a story-poem stage presentation

(part of  Living Poem)

Program Notes

 

(A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.)

 

Reader:

 

Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.

(A monster is coming and there’s no escape

Within this story, and no good way to tell it,

 

Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,

A disaster streaming off extremes it breeds

Everywhere and in our minds, disabling our power.)

 

Distractions are good, puzzles that tease

And please and fill the main scene, which

Includes thinking about certain things.

 

What are sound reasons for optimism or

Romanticism, the will to believe that a quest

For virtue is not just its own reward, but more?

 

Why strive?  To feel more alive?

To answer another’s need and achieve rapport?

To align with forces important to support?

 

First off, let’s turn to the universe,

Coming at us as swirls within swirls, and invest

In the evidence of something larger than ourselves.

 

Although one’s life presents just one of countless views,

The complexity, integrity, and connectivity

Of any one experience is more than enough news

 

To fill time, as we see in the life-dream-envelope

Developing now at hand, a loop to the reel

Of fantasies that had captured last century’s youth.

 

Movies entered villages, screens, and experience.

American mythology reached its zenith.

Other influences curled around the era.

 

A nameless dread, banned from thoughts in bed,

Blew through the minds of the walking dead

As they sleep-walked through history.

 

The temperature-evaporation-salinity spiral

Measured in oceans on a government dial

Tended toward the vector of suicidal.

 

Let’s not talk about that, let’s talk about

“Havenglade Downs” and the poem coming out

With its ready-for-prime-time title.

   

Act 1, Scene 1: The Setting

 

(A narrator as author comes on stage to narrate the setting, either aided by audio-visuals or left up to the imagination.)

 

Author:

 

The Yucca flats and the planet Mars coalesce

In the minds of those from the era of missiles.

 

In radioactive zones, anomalies multiply

Like planets where laws of reality don’t apply.

 

There was gel in the hair and an apple in the box,

While at the back door a night thought knocked.

 

All you need to do is look at the back door screen.

How can you not?  You do see what I mean?

 

If you look, it’s an entrance to a haunting plot,

A 20th century romance with greed and glut.

 

Ore had been the big score for power-mongers

Whose egos were huge and engines humongous.

 

It was easy to tell bad guys from good, except for

Spies and aliens who could be anywhere.

 

Even good-guy spies, John le Carre showed,

Had to be double agents to be any good.

 

It was a world of shadows from above and behind,

And from below the complacency of the mind.

 

Geniuses were curried as essential ingredients

In an existential fantasy of scientific dominance.

 

What print hangs on the wall?  Einstein?  Teller?

A Manifest Destiny wagon turned interstellar?

 

Narcotics, gadgets, incubus-homes,

Robotics, spaceships, tricked-out genomes,

A science gospel with a martial mission

All form the backdrop of this exposition.

 

What is the point of technological dominion?

To defeat nature and obliviously lock in oblivion?

 

 

Act 1, Scene 2: Author Comment

 

I popped up as a boy genius in our 1950s house

And took the position of never taking the crown.

 

The crown, my parents believed, was a dirty affair,

The poison milk, the gilt of a millionaire.

 

There was no allowance for the space, though little,

Provided the camel through the eye of the needle.

 

In a twilight zone with a sci-fi penumbra,

The Unknown approached with an ID number.

 

Now, let’s fade into the illuminated sheen

Of the story filling up the wide screen,

 

A wet dream ‘50s kids thought dope:

Rocket wars in Cinemascope.

 

Goddard invented the liquid fuel rocket

And now any madman has a silo to dock it.

 

See the proof here as paranoia in the air

Is ignited by a strike from, it seems, nowhere.

 

 

Act 2, Scene 1: Lost City

 

(The author comes on stage to narrate action represented in images, movies, dramatic enactments, or the imagination.  This is called the “retell mode.”)

 

Author:

 

A strange electric storm shocks a ship at sea.

Experts warn it augurs the end of humanity.

 

Flood tides and earthquakes mark the geographic

Center of the disturbance as central Africa.

 

“The resources of the nation are at your disposal,

Bruce,” men greet Bruce’s expedition proposal.

 

Deep in deepest Africa on a set built by crews

In Hollywood studios, natives ooh at news.

 

“Murderous giants are on the loose; and at the gate,

White men come,” led by Bruce the brazen

 

Who raises his head, eyes all lit, as he learns

Of Magnetic Mountain, where occult fire burns.

 

Bruce knows from his mineralogy instructor

That he’s hit upon the equivalent of a gusher.

 

In the mountain’s core, an evil emperor’s set on

More and more power in the face of Armageddon.

 

 

Act 2, Scene 2: An Aside

 

Odd character:

 

Here’s where the epic writer’s mind starts to spin

Into a jig grinning a Strangelove grin.

 

The emperor’s scientist when quizzed,

“Why didn’t you warn us about this?”

Says, “I guess it was the hypnotist.”

 

“Even when the dictator shook his fist,

Shouting, ‘The cosmic condenser, I insist!’?”

The scientist pleads, “I didn’t mean this.”

 

It’s like Dr. He, laboratory baby concoctor,

Who snipped and re-stitched genetic structure,

And quipped, “This has nothing to do with horror.”

 

And now we return to the main show.

We’re all on dope, on a yoyo,

On a rolling slope, groping for hope.

 

 

Act 2, Scene 3: Lost City, continued

 

Help!  The dictator uses magnetic waves

To turn thrashing natives into soldier-slaves.

 

How can someone with many ways to hurt you

Be defeated?  The secret answer is virtue,

 

Which blinds Bruce, who hears a damsel’s cries

And follows it to the Hut of the Mysterious Voice.

 

He and his pal fall through a trap to a fate

That ends with the spool, and so must wait

 

For a month, while in the Chasm of Doubt,

Bruce has exposed weaknesses to contemplate.

 

 

Act 2, Scene 4: Author Interjection

 

I’ll tell you what I am feeling in all of this.

Bruce’s claims on virtuous truth stir uneasiness.

 

But, man! Winner self-love feels good,

Whether you come from the mansion, mill, or hood

And super-power dreams are in your blood

 

And you share your dream with a new breed,

Needing only the flag of liberation to succeed

Once upon a winner’s time in Nod.

 

The problem is the angel of righteousness.

How does its goodness cause blight in us?

How does redemptive light un-enlighten us?

 

This is like Spencer’s The Faerie Queen,

In which the queen can be not-what-she-seems

And the hero walks a crazy rhyme scheme,

 

Which is like Bruce’s date with the oracle,

Except that his troubles are not metaphorical

And he has less hope of a miracle.

 

Designs with symbols and flashing colors,

Slow down, slow to a crawl like a tumbler

To reveal the next story number.

 

Oh, number what?  Another random inanity?

An analogy, you say, to humanity,

Clicked to the pitch of tick-tick insanity?

 

 

Act 2, Scene 5: Havenglade

 

Author in retell mode:

 

In Havenglade, where the spotlight dwells,

Gods and changelings open themselves

To affairs of the heart.

 

One day, a godling arrives in the glen,

A soft-hearted naïf with an appetite

That sometimes rules in the end.

 

He brings mead and pours himself

A big cup, and you, half a demitasse.

He sluices his gulp.

 

Do not think this tale a comic strip

Of archetypes.  The icons are themed

With idiosyncrasies and multiple identities.

 

The godling, when an emblazoned babe,

Had once discovered that the suck

On his nectar feed was stuck.

 

This would not do.  The occult brew

Contained rising-from-ashes power

And he felt supernatural hunger.

 

It’s not fair to make a babe gargantuan,

No matter how soft the medium

Or clear the brassy tone.

 

The pap that lads lapped all over the map

Gave sweet dreams to baby’s nap

Like a sap sucker enraptured by sap.

 

Sprouts that survived history’s ash

Blossomed in America’s prosperous flush

And emitted a long held-back breath.

.

The potency of the dream scene, boosted

By fantasies on big screens, produced

Godlings, avatars of greatness.

 

(Stage lights off.  Curtains close.  A spotlight shines on group of figures.)

 

The birthplace of godlings suddenly goes dark.

Stage left, figures nurture a spark

In a pose like a commemorative landmark.

 

“Stagehand, please, will you now take the cue

To break the suspension that attaches to

The godling’s lair and usher in an oracle?”

 

Bertolt Brecht, crossing the stage:

 

“We who wished to prepare the ground

For friendliness, could not ourselves

 

Be friendly, but you who come after,

When man’s no longer a wolf to man,

Remember us with forbearance.”

 

Author:

 

Thus goes the love-song of parents

Whose lives have shed their naïve appearance

In exchange for making a difference.

 

But what if the sacrifice and suffering,

The nursed hurts and kindled faith,

Could not control the cycling dynamic?

 

(Curtains open.  The spotlight goes off.  Stage lights go on.)

 

Curtains re-open on the godling’s turf,

With the gargantuan taking things unto himself,

Unmoored from that forgettable time

 

When his contract had been up, and he’d cried,

“Do not reduce me to clay, Creator,”

And the Creator complied.

 

Freed from history, the heroic golem

Wandered city streets with a nowhere problem

Until entering a home where he played a godling.

 

You’d be right to think this the end of the story,

But there’s a plot twist just beyond its boundary.

I saw the golem leave the godling’s body

 

And the godling’s now in his natural element,

Generous, patient, relishing every moment.

Then light flickers, and up shows another revenant.

 

 

Act 2, Scene 6: Nyoka, the Jungle Girl

 

Author in retell mode:

 

“We must go to the Lair of the Eagles,

Then the Tunnel of Bubbling Death,”

Nyoka says, interpreting pictographs.

 

Searching and subbing for her absentee

Father, she shoots guns and swings from trees

As her skirt flounces above her knees.

 

“The Tunnel of Bubbling Death?”

“Yes.  Passing through this tunnel,

We will reach the Valley of the Tauregs.”

 

Wait, are you saying Tuaregs?

The ancient nomads of North Sahara,

Today, stateless migrant workers

And exotics wandering in Bamako?

 

What we hear at this point is a keening.

Does this wailing warrant interceding?

Someone lifts a lid on a proceeding

And it’s like a trance.

 

“We are here, the will-not-be-forgotten,

Traversing dunes, guided by the stars,

Humming the tune of the nodding camel

And praising Allah.”

 

Meanwhile, the women, matriarchal,

Laugh, and the blue-clad sisterhood

Follow their drums home to the desert

To deliver some news.

 

In the 1950s, when the overlords left,

They left behind a wickedness,

The division by race of slaves and bosses,

Hatreds cloned and alliances cleft.

 

Onward!  Nyoka is reading the script.  Hidden away

In a cave (where, Chad?), lay

The Golden Tablets of Hippocrates

 

And a cure for cancer!  I recall

Another medical takeover story, Apollo

Ripping from a woods-nymph his child,

 

Asclepius, future high priest of medicine.

It’s the dictator and the scientist again!

And the fatal obsession with cheating death.

 

“We must get the tablets first,” says Vultura,

Queen of the tribespeople.  Untold treasure

Lies buried beneath Africa Obscura.

 

Like the fraying rope of a bridge tether,

Or a fire pit over which fights teeter,

Nyoka’s luck proves a bottom feeder.

 

“The Tunnel of Bubbling Death,

Well-named,” quoth Nyoka’s lieutenant

As she tumbles into a flaming froth.

 

Nyoka’s a good girl, Nancy Drew-curious,

Fay Wray re-wrapped as an Army nurse,

Dorothy of Oz with a Scout knife in her purse.

 

What would it be like if she occurred in

Scenes with Bruce the Brazen or the godling

Or with other morphs or forces in the unraveling?

 

Stay tuned, though this journey may go nowhere

Except into flames and a thermonuclear

Erasure, but that’s not the popular wager.

 

 

Act 3, Scene 1: The Return of Bruce

 

Author in retell mode:

 

Behind a row of brownstones, lying low,

There’s an infirmary where wasted heroes go.

No one talks about this.

 

The inmates rarely have anything to say,

But when they do, it’s as if a break

In a seal reveals a world beneath a lake.

 

A disturbance in the ward where Bruce lies prone

Has people hurrying to hear his moan

Turn into something intelligible.

 

Off to the side, a nurse named Joan

Sifts through papers.  “Who’s this one?”

Her aide calls out, adjusting a microphone.

 

Joan questions Bruce in a mysterious voice,

Something about one of his exploits,

He thinks, and tries to find the edges of his cell.

 

No?  Well, is there anything he has to tell?

And then he hears the tolling of a bell

In a church in a town in the scrub of a foothill.

 

They’d smiled and called him the infidel,

Citing a term that they knew well,

Going back to Vasco da Gama.

 

“Mr. Brazen, is there something you remember,”

Joan asks, “about your time in Kenya,

And encounters with the Kikuyu or Akamba?”

 

“Lokop,” Bruce said.  “What, lock-up?”  “Loikop,

What the chief says when I drive my truck up.

To his village. He’s waving and shouting, “Njoo!”

 

“‘Come, come this way, quick!’ he says, leading

Me to a stick-and-mud hut, and to the pleading

Eyes of a girl who’s having trouble breathing.”

 

Joan dares not interrupt this recitation,

But notices she needs to get the patient

A cup for his unwelcome expectoration.

 

 

Act 3, Scene 2: CSI: Cytoplasm

 

Author:

 

I interrupt this program to report

That the agents assigned to halt the dying

Neurons in my gestalt are striking

Out, thus drawing attention again to cures.

 

As I lay me down to sleep,

I try imagining what’s happening

Deep down in my mystery disease,

And latch onto drifts of news

Of ALS riding the thought-stream.

 

Author in retell mode:

 

Suddenly I’m on Neuron Street,

The “CSI: Cytoplasm” beat.

At the crime scene,

Up pops Mutant Gene

As the cops’ top guilty candidate.

 

Glossies spread.  There are stacks of

Shots of possible gene malefactors,

SOD1, TDP-43.

And FUS/TLS, three

Prime suspects on which to focus.

 

“Rob, have you a stake in this hustle,

Stalking the murderer of your muscle?”

“No, my jam’s not genetic

But may still be connected

With genes being complicit, not causal.”

 

The inspector has doubts about my angle

And my tendency to rephrase and wangle

Words into a pattern

Like a Japanese lantern

Or like a dung beetle’s tidy dung apple.

 

“This gene,” says the chief, “fabricates

The protein, super-oxide dismutase.”

“SOD! the enzyme

That prevents super-oxides

From shooting off ion-grenades.”

 

The inspector points to a pile-up

Of proteins at the gates where cells dial-up

Instructions for actions

To embolden nerve axons.

“See here in this protein?  There’s the foul-up.”

 

The observed malformation, D90A, is

The twist found in all kinds of cases

Of ALS, its fold

As genetically old

As the ascendance of Homo sapiens.

 

“900 generations ago, the chief said,

Is when D90A first appeared,”

Fred informs old Job

Whom he’d wheeled to the rope

At the crime scene and told what he’d heard.

 

“30,000 years ago,” Job recalls,

“That’s when humans wiped out Neanderthals.

The Biblical kill

Caused a mutant allele

To lurk in genetic materials.”

 

“It is also possible,” Fred opines,

“The gene rode the tail of a bloodline

As Neanderthals fled

And conquerors bred

With Neanderthal campsite lag-behinds.”

 

In the meantime, the crime scene’s boring.

You have to sit while workers keep poring

Over scans and data

And chemical quanta

And everything except what they’re ignoring.

 

“This investigation,” says the detective,

“Also points to O-2 negative.

Excuse me, you guys,

Must I sensationalize

Ion exchange to make it more electric?

 

“Why, this case is a clinical challenge

In which meaning hangs on a valence,

Electrons dangling,

Genetics jangling,

And transmitters angling off-balance.”

 

 

Act 3, Scene 3: Nyoka’s Journey

 

Nyoka:

 

In the mirror I see that my face is scarred,

But in my mind and others’ eyes, it’s unmarred

By the bubbling death pit I’d endured.

 

My innocence is my shield, and feels as right

As when I swing from vines and take flight;

Or, recover from a breath-smothering fright.

 

Weir, her lieutenant:

 

Nyoka, are you all right?  It’s been several

Minutes since you’d fallen into the hole.

 

Nyoka:

 

It felt like several weeks in that bubble,

Most of it in that minute when I’d fainted

Into timelessness and became acquainted

With the forces involved in how I’ve been fated.

 

Mary, a girl, entering:

 

Nyoka, your father is in trouble!

 

Nyoka:

 

                                                          What?

         

Mary:

 

They have him before a tribunal in a hut,

For a death he’d caused by having touched

Something.

 

Nyoka:

 

Bones?

 

Mary:

 

                                  Mm.

 

Nyoka:

                                              That’s such a farce.

But I don’t know.  In my time of unconsciousness,

I saw my father’s heart weighed on a balance dish

Against a feather.  I rushed to give my heart for his

And the ageless official told me with tenderness,

“Nyoka, I am sorry that you have to witness this.”

“But she does not,” a woman screamed, and soon

A blanket decorated with an eclipsed moon

Wrapped me up and sent me to a sunless room.

 

Weir:

 

Nyoka, a government official is coming down the path.

 

Nyoka:

 

Does he have a pointy face and a forked staff?

 

Mary, looking out:

 

No, a washed-up look.  Nyoka, you make me laugh.

 

Official:

 

Excuse me, Miss Nyoka, I’ve been assigned

To question you and determine your state of mind.

May I?

 

Nyoka:

 

                      I don’t really have the time.

 

Official:

 

May I sit here?

 

Nyoka:

 

                                  Sit here in this rocker.

 

Official:

 

Why did your father study archaeology, Nyoka?

 

Nyoka:

 

I’d never before viewed my life as an onlooker,

But now I see my childhood as through a lens

And recall walks with my dad in woods and fens

When he enjoyed the world around his head.

One day I asked to take a friend, Debra Hyde,

A thin girl who looked at you from the side.

My father yelled at her stupidness, and she cried.

That, dear Inspector, was my first compromise.

It cleared the way for many others, for I’d lied

About the importance of science over human feeling

And made an altar for my father, the all-seeing,

Who worshiped me as his perfect seedling.

 

Official:

 

Why was it archaeology and not hot air balloons,

For instance?

 

Nyoka:

 

                      His hot air balloon landed in a dune

And his digging was for something personal to prove.

Do you feel that, Weir, the ache for greatness?

 

Weir:

 

I must admit, my family was quite conservative.

Only fancy folk can give their greatness license.

 

Nyoka:

 

Speaking of licenses, Weir, go grab the car keys.

And Mary, pack my suit, cap, and stockings.

The pay-to-go mode goes with giving a good show.

 

(Old man Job appears in a spotlight with his aide Fred, stage left, as Nyoka’s scene fades.)

 

Job:

 

Fred, where have you taken me?

 

Fred:

 

To the gravesite of the birthplace of humanity

Where archaeologists reconstruct the origin scene.

It’s a big draw for seekers of what life means,

The Edenic valley tucked in the glacial Pleistocene.

 

Job:

 

Cover me up, Fred.  I am shivering.

Act 3, Scene 4: Bruce Tells All

Joan:

 

Here drink this, it’s good for allaying

Upsets.  Mr. Brazen, you were saying

About that girl who needed saving?

 

Bruce:

 

Ah, I took her to my car, her arms clenching

My back, her breath wheezing.  That's when we

Heard shots and smelled thatch burning.

 

For a few weeks I visited the hospital

Where Naeku, that child, lay throttled

By pneumonia, and I read her Maasai parables.

 

God says to Maasinta, the first Maasai,

“Maasinta, build an enclosure.” He asks why.

“Just do it, wait there, and show no surprise.”

 

Then down a giant thong numberless cattle came

Descending into Maasinta’s pen.  His friend,

Dorobo, panicked and severed the leathery lane.

 

What did God say?   God said, “Maasinta, you

I make Maasai, cattle-driver.  Donobro

And his kind I set aside for servitude.”

 

After this telling, Naeku’s face turned

Into the old man’s and she said his word,

Not Swahili “Njoo,” but “jaayá,” Maa for “Our land.”

 

The truth?  I’d killed him in front of his granddaughter.

Who hadn’t had pneumonia, but asthma.

I’d carried her out, then gave the word for slaughter.


Joan:

 

Mr. Brazen, might we go further back

In your memories as we drift and tack

On our journey on the Good Ship Union Jack?

 

(Light flickers on stage.)

 

Bruce:

 

I lodged at the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi,

Where white settlers gathered over coffee,

Having arrived by iron chariot to view the

Latent estates in the land below the Kikuyu.

 

The pastures all about were creatureless

For the Maasai cattle had died of rinderpest;

And the Maasai themselves lived on reservations.

Kenya was the chosen next British nation.

 

Carts churned in mud past raised-up huts.

A Norfolk bloke relayed the latest scuttlebutt.

The commissioner had said that “for plunder,

The Maasai and other tribes must go under.”

 

(Lights go out in the nursing home; and the stage is dark.)

 

I am the lie and the devastation,

The demonizer and avatar of civilization.

When I picture that girl’s ancestral face,

I disbelieve the superiority of my race.

--Rob Neufeld, 2019

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